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Drugs may interact with warfarin sodium through pharmacodynamic or pharmacokinetic mechanisms. Pharmacodynamic mechanisms for drug interactions with warfarin sodium are synergism (impaired hemostasis, reduced clotting factor synthesis), competitive antagonism (vitamin K), and alteration of the physiologic control loop for vitamin K metabolism (hereditary resistance). Pharmacokinetic mechanisms for drug interactions with warfarin sodium are mainly enzyme induction, enzyme inhibition, and reduced plasma protein binding. It is important to note that some drugs may interact by more than one mechanism.

Pharmacodynamic:

  • Synergism
  • Competitive antagonism
  • Alteration of vitamin K cycle and metabolism

Pharmacokinetic:

  • Enzyme induction
  • Enzyme inhibition
  • Reduced plasma protein binding

CYP450 Interactions

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CYP450 isozymes involved in the metabolism of warfarin include CYP2C9, 2C19, 2C8, 2C18, 1A2, and 3A4. The more potent warfarin S-enantiomer is metabolized by CYP2C9 while the R-enantiomer is metabolized by CYP1A2 and 3A4.

  • Inhibitors of CYP2C9, 1A2, and/or 3A4 have the potential to increase the effect (increase INR) of warfarin by increasing the exposure of warfarin.
  • Inducers of CYP2C9, 1A2, and/or 3A4 have the potential to decrease the effect (decrease INR) of warfarin by decreasing the exposure of warfarin.

Examples of inhibitors and inducers of CYP2C9, 1A2, and 3A4 are below in Table 2; however, this list should not be considered all-inclusive.

Drugs that Increase Bleeding Risk

Examples of drugs known to increase the risk of bleeding are presented in Table 3. Because bleeding risk is increased when these drugs are used concomitantly with warfarin, closely monitor patients receiving any such drug with warfarin.

Antibiotics and Antifungals

There have been reports of changes in INR in patients taking warfarin and antibiotics or antifungals, but clinical pharmacokinetic studies have not shown consistent effects of these agents on plasma concentrations of warfarin.

Botanical (Herbal) Products and Foods

More frequent INR monitoring should be performed when starting or stopping botanicals.

Few adequate, well-controlled studies evaluating the potential for metabolic and/or pharmacologic interactions between botanicals and warfarin sodium exist. Due to a lack of manufacturing standardization with botanical medicinal preparations, the amount of active ingredients may vary. This could further confound the ability to assess potential interactions and effects on anticoagulation.

Some botanicals may cause bleeding events when taken alone and may have anticoagulant, antiplatelet, and/or fibrinolytic properties. These effects would be expected to be additive to the anticoagulant effects of warfarin sodium. Conversely, some botanicals may decrease the effects of warfarin sodium. Some botanicals and foods can interact with warfarin sodium through CYP450 interactions (e.g., echinacea, grapefruit juice, ginkgo, goldenseal, St. John’s wort).

The amount of vitamin K in food may affect therapy with warfarin sodium. Advise patients taking warfarin sodium to eat a normal, balanced diet maintaining a consistent amount of vitamin K. Patients taking warfarin sodium should avoid drastic changes in dietary habits, such as eating large amounts of green leafy vegetables.